Why I can’t stand the freakin’ holidays

There used to be a time when I really liked the holidays.  Heck, it was vacation!  Any excuse for no school was a good excuse for no school.  It was actually called Christmas vacation then, until it was politically corrected so it would both include all the bellyaching factions who wanted to be included and not offend the atheists, agnostics, and Flyingspaghettimonsterites.

But I digress.  Let’s get to the heart of the matter: why Christmas vacation sucks.  I know my fellow curmudgeons are out there, and thanks to the internet, they too can find a few words to warm their shriveled little Scrooge hearts.  Read on:

1. I can’t throw a goddamn party for a whole freakin’ month.

For pretty much the entire month of December, I can’t throw any kind of party.  For the first half of the month, every night of the week is taken up by multiple holiday parties, each one of them samer than the next.  I know, boohoo, I have sooo many parties to go to – rough life.  But what if I just want to have a dinner party?  Nope, can’t compete with Ugly Sweater Party XIV or the White Elephant gift exchange that’s going to saddle me with a mahogany desk organizer set.

And then, in the second half of the month, everybody leaves town, so I still can’t throw a party.  Of course, if I just skipped town myself, that would solve the problem, so really this article is about ‘Why Christmas vacation sucks if you’re stuck in your hometown.’

2. Santa Claus is a phony, grammatically murderous Coca-Cola concoction

The phoniness, kitsch and just plain ridiculousness of Santa never ceases to amaze me.  First of all, have any of you noticed that ‘Santa’ is the title for a woman – like Santa Monica, Santa Margarita, and Santa Ana?  Call him Saint Nicholas if you must, but calling a man ‘Santa’ is like naming your daughter Biff or saying Ms Brad Pitt.  Just plain wrong.

Then you have the roly-poly white-bearded red-suited imagery which all basically comes from a Coca Cola ad.  Since capitalism is a quasi-religion in the US, it’s only appropriate that its foremost quasi-religious figure should come from corporate America.

But is he really all that quasi-religious?  Let’s look at the lyrics of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ for a moment, shall we:

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Hell, this guy ain’t Santa Claus – he’s god!  Compare his white-bearded mien, and métier of sitting at a chair dispensing judgment and favor, with the iconography of God the Father of the flowing white beard, sitting at his throne, thunderbolt in hand.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Also, he’s fat, and that’s not the kind of role model we need nowadays.

3. Christmas is a corruption of Saturnalia.

Basically, nobody knows when Jesus was born.  Heck, nobody even knows what year he was born, let alone what day.  What the Holy Roman Emperors did know was that Saturnalia, which happened around the winter solstice, was the Romans’ favorite holiday.  This is when society went topsy-turvy: kids were let out of school, slaves became masters, masters became slaves, and misrule ruled.  Oh, and there was much drinking,  nakedness, and good old-fashioned orgies.

This was totally not with the Holy Roman program, and the government couldn’t quite fight it.  So they co-opted it.  Well lookee here – seems like Jesus was born around the solstice, too!  Now let’s all party – tamely, thank you, with your clothes on.  And speaking of orgies gone terribly wrong…

5. Christmas is an orgy of rabid frothy consumption and acquisitiveness.

Every year, the reports from Black Friday get more lurid.  People camping overnight in store parking lots, pepper-spraying one another to get to merchandise, trampling each other to death.  Chill the fuck out – it’s only stuff!  For a whole month, everyone’s running around like Godzilla high on speed, trying to eat what it can and charge the rest.

Hey, I don’t mind a thoughtful present every once in a while.  But how much is it worth if you had to buy it under duress – because ‘tis the season?  I’d much rather have you get me a present on some random day of the year, like July 17, because you saw something you thought I’d like.

6. The whole story of Christmas and nativity is fabricated, weird and historically inaccurate.

Here’s the standard story of the Nativity: Joseph and Mary, 9 months pregnant, have traveled to Bethlehem (uh, why? – we’ll get to that in a sec).  They ask for a room in an inn, but the innkeeper says no vacancy.  The retire to a stable, where Mary gives birth in the presence of reverent livestock and shepherds, at which point three wise men/kings/magi who have followed a star arrive from the East bearing gifts of frankincense, myrrh and Lego sets (they were old school like that).

Now, if you’ve actually read the New Testament, you’ll notice that this story does not exist anywhere in the Bible.  Go ahead – look for it!  It’s simply not there.  It’s a mishmash of the accounts from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which directly conflict with one another.

First of all, Matthew has no story of Joseph and Mary traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem because they live in Bethlehem.  In a house.  No stable, no animals, no shepherds, no manger – just a simple home birth.  He is visited by wise men, but their number is unspecified.  The wise men are sent by Herod, whose astrologers have told him the exact time and date of the birth of a child who will supplant him as King of Judea.  The wise men lie to Herod and say they didn’t find the kid, after which Herod orders the killing of all boys 2 yrs old or younger in Bethlehem.  This means that the wise men visited baby J. two years after his birth, not on his birthday.  This makes sense, considering that there were no high-speed magnetic levitation trains to bring the wise men from way back East to the birthplace as soon as the star marking Jesus’ birth appeared. And where exactly is ‘The East’ anyway?  Poughkeepsie?  Tenafly?  Or more like Beijing or Bali?

In Luke, the Annunciation of the virgin birth is made to Mary, not to Joseph as in Matthew.  Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Now why would an exceptionally pregnant woman want to do that?  For the Roman census of that year, of course.  Except that Romans kept very good records of such things, and there was no census in that year. (Historians agree that Jesus was most likely born in Nazareth; the story of the birth in Bethlehem is a literary device so it all lines up with prophecy from the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.) Then they end up in a stable, visited by common shepherds but no wise men bearing gifts.

The two stories don’t really align with one another.  Matthew’s subtext is how awful a man Herod King of Judea was, while Luke’s subtext is contrasting the humble origins of the true savior, Jesus, with the ostentation of Emperor Augustus.  Call ‘em what you may, but they ain’t the story of the Christmas you know.

7. Christmas music drives me batty.

All I can say is that I feel for all those poor bastards who have to work in retail establishments where they have to listen to the same songs over and over again FOR A MONTH.  Just my periodic visits to stores are enough to get visions of cluster-bomb fairies and chocolate-covered shotguns dancing in my head.  Stop the madness!  Anything, even Neil Diamond or Barry Manilow instead.

That said, there are a few saving graces to the Christmas season.  People are a smidge nicer.  The holiday parties are kinda fun on occasion, and nog spiked with Bailey’s must be consumed at least once a year.  And hearing “Ho ho ho” so often gives you hope that they must be somewhere. But my favorite part: you can actually drive around in LA and get places, ‘cause everyone’s gone.  Not that there’s anyone left to visit, but who cares!  The 405 is clear – drive anywhere, just because you can.

And the #1 reason why I can’t stand the fucking holidays is…

8. You just killed 50 million trees, assholes.

Let me ask you this: do you re-purchase tree ornaments every year?  Or do you just stash them in a box and recycle them next year, saving yourself time, money and trash?  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Well why don’t you do the same thing with the damn tree then?  There is nothing a real tree can do that a plastic Christmas tree can’t.  It stands there.  It allows ornaments to hang.  And it lets people put presents at its foot.  Moreover, you don’t have to strap it to your car roof to drive it home, it doesn’t shed, and it won’t ooze gooey sap that gets all over the place, and you don’t have to go through the ordeal of disposing of it either.

Also, consider this: there are about 100 million households in the United States.  If half of them get a Christmas tree and a few million businesses get one, too, then we’ve got over 50 million evergreens that get slaughtered each year just so people have a completely optional decoration in their home to put presents under and goofy ornaments upon.  That’s 50 million trees that would otherwise be CO2-fixing, oxygen-releasing organisms contributing to the health of the planet and maybe acting as a buffer against climate change.  I don’t care if they were planted specifically for that purpose — they’re still trees that were live before and dead after.  And upon disposal, at an average weight of 30kg per tree, that becomes 1.5 million tons of organic waste that goes into landfill.

That just ain’t right.  So either get a plastic tree that gets the job done, or go treeless.  ‘Tradition’ is often a euphemism for mindless obeisance; let authenticity and affection define your Christmas instead.

1 thought on “Why I can’t stand the freakin’ holidays

  1. Ajay

    Nice, Ali, very nice. But what’s the Harvard Law connection?

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